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Sunset Route Two-Tracking Updates

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Sunday, May 14, 2017 12:25 PM

A San Gabriel Trench (CA) Situation …

… Update as of Friday, May 12, 2017

Part “A” (of A-B)

Nothing appears to have been done since MikeF90 recently photographed Walnut Grove Ave. at the eastern part of the San Gabriel Trench.  Looking west:

Looking east, with the rails crossing the street paved over.

While some project authorities publically try to put a good spin on the delay, it must be remembered UP likely schedules work some months in advance to position workers and equipment in the most efficient way, and if a contractor, etc., delays things the railroad is not going to disrupt their well-planned out work.  Perhaps whoever delayed things learned the hard way that doing such is the course of stupidity and others can’t be expected to share in that inept course.  That is K.P.’s opinion and assessment of the situation.

The Walnut Grove Ave. grade crossing looking north:

Above, K.P. in the past tended to park his vehicle in the area now blocked off by pylons on the left.

Continued in Part B

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Sunday, May 14, 2017 12:32 PM

A San Gabriel Trench (CA) Situation …

… Update as of Friday, May 12, 2017

Part “B” (of A-B)

A westward telephoto from Walnut Grove Ave.:

Above, note the short walling on the left, just left of the laid track.  It was thought such a drainage system was new, peculiar to THIS project.  Later in the day, K.P. was elsewhere with his camera, and found the exact same thing on another trench, now built a number of years ago.  Photos in Second Section …

We now move over past San Gabriel Blvd. to Del Mar Ave. and take photos of the highly ballasted and nicely manicured track in the trench.  Looking east:

In the just above photo, note that drainage strip on each side of the trench walls’ bottom.

Looking west:

K.P. looked over the whole area somewhat quickly, but found nothing that popped out as of special interest.  Of special interest were possible signals, cantilever type hanging from the side walls or mast signals in the center of the trench.  NO signals (or future signals) have ever been found.   Surely, there will be a new signal erected somewhere!

This will conclude the series.  However, a Second Section follows.

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Sunday, May 14, 2017 12:35 PM

Second Section

Those drainage strips are in the Alameda Corridor trench too that was built some years ago.  (See right of each photo.)

So, apparently the San Gabriel Trench has used a tried and true method of drainage.

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 3:48 PM

Two News Items:  One Enlightening, One Not So Good

First, the Highway 347 Future Overpass, Maricopa, AZ

It is unknown when the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) put the information on its website, but the planned overpass over the Sunset Route in Maricopa now is projected to “begin [in] late 2017” and finish in 2019.  So, the start of the project has been moved from mid-2017 to towards the end of the year.  Unless something else unexpected develops, it probably is a safe bet that the long awaited construction will begin in late 2017.

The link to the above ADOT material:

http://www.azdot.gov/projects/central-district-projects/sr-347-at-union-pacific-railroad/overview

Second, the Item Not So Good

A sister magazine to TRAINS is Astronomy.  Some years back K.P. created a thread in that magazine’s forums involving the Mount Palomar observatory (200-inch telescope) here in Southern California, not too terribly far from Oceanside.

Last week that thread was checked on after neglect for a number of years.  It was discovered Astronomy had done away with ALL their forums.  So, all the money and effort in behalf of stargazers was for nothing!  So, since TRAINS Magazine is a sister of Astronomy, we have a negative track record to consider.

TRAINS Associate Editor Brian Schmidt said in another thread that there currently are no plans to do away with the TRAINS Magazine’s forums PROVIDED we all remain civilized. (See below from “Super Bad News – Brace Yourselves! No More Forums Coming?” thread.)

Brian Schmidt

Folks, there are no plans to close the Trains Magazine forums now, as long as they remain relatively trouble free. If you want to ensure the long-term survival of the forums, then you all need to take a role in them. Post quality content. That means your own thoughts and ideas, and not mindlessly sharing links to other sites without any description or context. Be respectful of each other. That means to discuss the ideas and not the people who present them. Ignore obvious trolls. That means just what it says.

But, the indelible Kalmbach track record is now there for all to see.  Thus, K.P. will no longer post with zeal in any thread of any Kalmbach forum.  A photo or two now and then may be posted as visual aids, but the zeal and gusto won’t be there.

CP SP747 BLAISDELL, east of Yuma, AZ, May 31, 2015

K.P. was (“was”) visualizing a trip to Arizona soon to see if any target signals had been converted to the color light type yet (in light of the Positive Train Control deadline), and possibly going all the way to Santa Teresa, NM (by El Paso, TX) to photograph a few ‘three headed’ signals missed last time.  Also, an effort to find the mysterious missed signal from last time in the Buckeye area (west of Phoenix) was envisioned.  But, all that is now super doubtful.  Money rather may be spent to experience the total solar eclipse in Nebraska in August instead, and see Union Pacific’s triple-track line there.  But, who knows what the future may bring …

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Posted by eolesen on Wednesday, May 24, 2017 8:22 AM
It's unfortunate, but many sponsored forums like this are becoming obsolete in favor of Facebook and Google Groups.
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Posted by kgbw49 on Wednesday, May 24, 2017 9:08 PM

K.P., I think your epic, record-setting thread with something like 1.5 million views will soldier on.

We might not have as frequent reporting or as many pictures from people, including our ace reporter (you), but I think as long as the site is up data will accumulate as UP gradually inches more double track along the Sunset Route over ensuing years.

What a job you have done, K.P.! Bravo to you and you have our deepest appreciation for sharing your adventures and excellent work! No matter what happens, the fact is you did it, and you were (and are) darn good, and we are all the better for your efforts! Nothing will ever change that!

 

 

 

 

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Posted by BNSF6400 on Wednesday, May 24, 2017 9:21 PM

K.P., I find your take on this interesting.  TRAINS Magazine tells it like it is, keeping the forums depends on users providing quality content, instead of just rehashing existing content from elsewhere.  You response was to severly reduce (or stop altogether) you original content.  K.P, you provide a massive amount of quality content that many find highly valuable.  You actions might ultimately lead to the elimination of the exact thing you don't what to go away.  What TRAINS said isn't even that groundbreaking, the forums will remain as long as the cost (money and human capital) is worth the value it gives its customers rings true for basically every forum everywhere.  Don't allow the honest truth to change what you have accomplished.  Would you have preferred that they said "We guarantee the forums will never be shutdown" and then have them shut down in  three months anyway?

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Wednesday, May 24, 2017 9:47 PM

BNSF6400
K.P, you provide a massive amount of quality content that many find highly valuable.

I totally concur with BNSF6400's statement and hope you keep on posting as long as this forum exists. I just returned from L.A. on #4 (16) and your posts were useful during my stay in L.A. and until it got too dark to see leaving Bakersfield. I think I can say many on here really enjoy and appreciate your posts. Thanks. Keep up the good work.

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Posted by billio on Thursday, May 25, 2017 7:34 AM

BNSF6400

K.P., I find your take on this interesting.  TRAINS Magazine tells it like it is, keeping the forums depends on users providing quality content, instead of just rehashing existing content from elsewhere.  You response was to severly reduce (or stop altogether) you original content.  K.P, you provide a massive amount of quality content that many find highly valuable.  You actions might ultimately lead to the elimination of the exact thing you don't what to go away.  What TRAINS said isn't even that groundbreaking, the forums will remain as long as the cost (money and human capital) is worth the value it gives its customers rings true for basically every forum everywhere.  Don't allow the honest truth to change what you have accomplished.  Would you have preferred that they said "We guarantee the forums will never be shutdown" and then have them shut down in  three months anyway?

 

AMEN!!  KP, I personally find 90+ percent of the posts herein uninformed and uninformative.  Yours stand out as a glorious exception. (BNSF is another dude who really knows what he is talking about).  The Sunset Route post, especially, stands out as an an epic among humdrum claptrap. Thanks again for all that you have shared here in service to this and other posts; thanks for grappling with balky, unwelcomong software to bring us your reportage, both photo and narrative.

I would hope that the Kalmbachers who run this forum keep it around.  One possibility would be to make a pay site, like, say, Trainorders; if it costs $6.50 to take in a midday matinee at a movie theater, then this seems worth the cost (to me) of at least four cheapo flicks.  One suspects most readers can afford the roughly $25 membership to participate in our pastime.

That said, KP, I hope you would reconsider and stay the course.  -- billio

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Posted by BrushKestrel on Thursday, June 01, 2017 7:47 AM

K. P. Harrier
But, the indelible Kalmbach track record is now there for all to see.  Thus, K.P. will no longer post with zeal in any thread of any Kalmbach forum.  A photo or two now and then may be posted as visual aids, but the zeal and gusto won’t be there.



If you don't feel like posting here much any more, how about starting your own blog? Your threads have enough pull to get people to follow them and read them elsewhere if you choose to move your posting to elsewhere.

That way you'd be in control of any decision to withdraw content, and not reliant on a forum run by a magazine publisher.

You might also find posting elsewhere would help with previously encountered technical problems...

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Posted by ccltrains on Friday, June 02, 2017 7:25 AM

KP- I really enjoy your posts on the Sunset and Tehachapi routes.  Please do not back off because Kalmbach is being silly.  Hopefully they will get their act together soon.

I am wondering if you or any reader can provide the mile posts or CPs where the Tehachapi route is double tracked.

Thank you for your help.

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Posted by desertdog on Friday, June 02, 2017 2:19 PM

A recent inMaricopa.com story highlighted preparations for the SR 347 / UP overpass:https://www.inmaricopa.com/power-lines-shifting-to-make-way-for-overpass/

I passed through there from Casa Grande yesterday and noted barricades, traffic cones and warning signs alongside the road, so apparently the necessary changes to the infrastructure have indeed begun.

On a somewhat related topic, in the latest edition of inMaricopa.com there is story about the CB&Q observation car that sits at the Maricopa Amtrak depot and a poll that will be of interest to the preservationists among us: https://www.inmaricopa.com

 

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Posted by MikeF90 on Friday, June 02, 2017 8:05 PM

@ccltrains, here's a Google map of the UP Mojave sub for you to bookmark:

 http://g.co/maps/g7k8e

The sub runs from north Bakerspatch to west Colton. The markers with the dots are usually one end of a 2MT block. I update the map as necessary but don't tally up mileage too often; upgrades happen at a snails pace these days.

Google Map links ---> Sunset Route overview, SoCal metro, Yuma sub, Gila sub, east of Tucson

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Saturday, June 03, 2017 10:15 PM

A Whole Lot of Nothing (BUT …)

Part I (of I-IV)

On Friday, June 2, 2017 a special trip was made to the Thermal-Mecca area (east of Indio, CA) to check on the Sunset Route possible (“possible”) signal conversions in conjunction with Positive Train Control (PTC) activity, or see if maybe there was any preliminary two-tracking.  As can be seen from the below photo of that date from Highway 86, nothing seems to have changed at CP SP620 THERMAL.  The old target signals remain.

That CP has a 30 M.P.H. turnout!  At that spot two-tracks become one track.  That must give dispatchers (and trainmen) ulcers on an otherwise higher speed line.

The goal this trip was to take a few photos, return, and post a minimal amount of them to show either something was brewing or that there was nothing to get excited about.  K.P., however, found an extreme middle ground, something to make one wonder about!

Take for instance this reshown May 1, 2016 photo (last year) from 4th Street in Mecca, looking westbound.

Above, the right-of-way was overgrown with greenish tumbleweed growth.

This visit grading or clearing of the land had taken place, probably within in the last six months.

Continued in Part II

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Saturday, June 03, 2017 10:19 PM

A Whole Lot of Nothing (BUT …)

Part II (of I-IV)

Looking westbound again, this time north of the track (center to right clear strip), the grading doesn’t appear to be as wide.  And, that is the side the second track would be laid on.

The implication (above, and from the last photo in Part I) is that a maintenance-of-way track(s) could be put in south of the track, or even a control point (CP), or both.  The wide grading all the way back on the south side has to make one wonder.  Of course, it could mean nothing, too.

Looking eastbound, the Mecca siding’s (north side, left) west end signaling:

Continued in Part III

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Saturday, June 03, 2017 10:23 PM

A Whole Lot of Nothing (BUT …)

Part III (of I-IV)

Let’s go over by the Highway 86 bridging over the Sunset Route track.

Four views:  Highway 111 is south of the track, with bridge piers right next to the track on the south side (camera position is south of the track).

For recollection purposes, Highway 86 northwest of here follows the tracks on the north side, goes over the tracks on bridging (above photos), and follows Salton Sea southward on the west side, whereas Highway 111 follows the tracks on Salton Sea’s east side.

Now, we go WEST to the 62nd Ave. grade crossing.

Continued in Part IV

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Saturday, June 03, 2017 10:29 PM

A Whole Lot of Nothing (BUT …)

Part IV (of I-IV)

It was unclear if additional grading in the 62nd Ave. area had been done.  However, it is not remembered if it was present previously, but K.P. doesn’t think so, but gating is present now.  Looking eastbound towards the Highway 86 overpass:

Looking westbound, a gate is now present also:

Initially, since the gating is away from the tracks, K.P. thought, as crazy as it might sound, that some enterprising investment group might build a thin row of housing along the railroad tracks, but the fact that by 4th Street in Mecca the right-of-way has been graded also suggests that the grading by 62nd Ave. is railroad related.

SINCE no new target to color lights signal conversions have yet taken place (at least in the Thermal-Mecca area, the area of this series), K.P. has no reason to believe such has taken place in Arizona, so he doesn’t plan on visiting Arizona for a while.  If someone out that way is willing to do a field check, it would be most helpful.

We are left wondering, though, WHY UP keeps token grading the Thermal-Mecca area.  Are they expecting (“expecting”) President Trump to give the railroad some money for two-tracking in an effort to boost the economy?  Or, possibly some type of PTC reimbursement?   The resulting “high salary” railroad workers added to the economy could boost the economy.   But that would-be workforce is shackled right now because of the looming Positive Train Control deadline and funds diverted to PTC efforts.  Anyone have any idea about this grading, or have inside information?

This will end the series.  However, a Second Section follows.

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Saturday, June 03, 2017 10:35 PM

Second Section

Anyone have photos or knowledge of the above mentioned area’s track arrangement way in the past?

At Thermal, what is now two-tracks was a single-track bridge over a wash.  The arrangement WAS as in the following diagram:
.

            Bridge   Thermal Siding


----------------------------------------
           /       \              /
          /         \            /
----------           ------------


.

On the LEFT of the above diagram, the left top track was the normal westbound track, and the bottom left track was the normal eastbound track.

Some miles to the west, between Indio and Thermal, is what is now 50th Ave.  There is an overpass there..   From the relatively new 52nd Ave. overpass in the Coachella area looking westbound, that 50th Ave. overpass is seen.

But, just west of, or on the other side of the overpass is an alignment shift of both tracks. (Above photo)  The implication is that there was a TWO left switches arrangement somewhere in this area.

.


          ------------------------------
         /                   /
        /                   /
----------------------------


.


Does anyone know if there was such track arrangement many years ago?  And, why?

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Posted by UPENG95 on Saturday, June 03, 2017 11:51 PM

K. P. Harrier

Second Section

Anyone have photos or knowledge of the above mentioned area’s track arrangement way in the past?

At Thermal, what is now two-tracks was a single-track bridge over a wash.  The arrangement WAS as in the following diagram:
.

            Bridge   Thermal Siding


----------------------------------------
           /       \              /
          /         \            /
----------           ------------


.

On the LEFT of the above diagram, the left top track was the normal westbound track, and the bottom left track was the normal eastbound track.

Some miles to the west, between Indio and Thermal, is what is now 50th Ave.  There is an overpass there..   From the relatively new 52nd Ave. overpass in the Coachella area looking westbound, that 50th Ave. overpass is seen.

But, just west of, or on the other side of the overpass is an alignment shift of both tracks. (Above photo)  The implication is that there was a TWO left switches arrangement somewhere in this area.

.


          ------------------------------
         /                   /
        /                   /
----------------------------


.


Does anyone know if there was such track arrangement many years ago?  And, why?

 

K.P.

I work in the L.A. Service Unit and have done so for in excess of 23 years.  While I haven't worked the Yuma Sub in a while, the track alignment shift that you are looking at in your above photo is simply the result of when a second track is added to a single track area.  In some areas the new track is built to say the south side of the existing track and due to right of way limitations in other areas the new track will be built to the north of an existing track.  When everything is complete you will get alignment shifts as in your photo.

In other words in the foreground of your photo track 1 is on the left.  Notice how it lines up with track 2 at the shift.  Get rid of the shift and you can see that the two aligned to form the original single main track.  So at this location from the shift westward the right of way had the space to the south (photo right) for a new track whereas beyond the shift the right of way was available to the north (photo left).

Hopefully what I wrote was understandable.

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Posted by JPS1 on Sunday, June 04, 2017 9:31 AM

The shift seems pretty significant, although it may be gentler than depicted in the photo.

Would trains need to slow down to get through the shift?

Also, if a significant amount of Pacific rim traffic shifts to the east coast ports because of the changes in the Panama Canal, will the UP's investment in the double tracking of the Sunset route pay off?

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Posted by MikeF90 on Sunday, June 04, 2017 3:26 PM

K. P. Harrier
We are left wondering, though, WHY UP keeps token grading the Thermal-Mecca area.

Brush (tumbleweed) clearance? Big Smile

Recently UP just published a PTC progress report / press release. It's a Big railroad to run. I agree that they're just 'coasting' (playing the Wall Street appeasement game) until the PTC required spending winds down. We'll see if they can actually 'grow' the business enough to justify more improvements.

Didn't see any pictures of 66th Street grade separation construction which was supposed to start late last year.

JPS1
Would trains need to slow down to get through the shift?

This kind of 'abrupt' track shift seems common enough due to the nature of construction as described above, but I haven't read of speed reductions required.

JPS1
Also, if a significant amount of Pacific rim traffic shifts to the east coast ports because of the changes in the Panama Canal, will the UP's investment in the double tracking of the Sunset route pay off?

From what I've read elsewhere, the U.S. east coast ports still have a large rate disadvantage that discourages new business.

Google Map links ---> Sunset Route overview, SoCal metro, Yuma sub, Gila sub, east of Tucson

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Posted by ccltrains on Sunday, June 04, 2017 6:56 PM

I assume that the photo was made with a telephoto lens which distortates prospective.  Do not think a slow down would be needed but the question is why build like this?  Several prior postings showed similar shifts.

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Sunday, June 04, 2017 7:23 PM

MikeF90
 

Recently UP just published a PTC progress report / press release.

It is strange that UP says parts of Zephry and Starlight routes do not require PTC.  How will that affect their time keeping ?

 

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Posted by UPENG95 on Sunday, June 04, 2017 8:39 PM

A small correction to my post above.  Reverse the track numbers and the compass directions that I said.

As K.P. said the photo is looking westward so Track 2 is on the left side of the photo (south side) and Track 1 is on the right (north side).

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Posted by UPENG95 on Sunday, June 04, 2017 8:56 PM

JPS1

The shift seems pretty significant, although it may be gentler than depicted in the photo.

Would trains need to slow down to get through the shift?

No speed restrictions at that location.  In reality the shift isn't as drastic as it appears in the photo.

 

Also, if a significant amount of Pacific rim traffic shifts to the east coast ports because of the changes in the Panama Canal, will the UP's investment in the double tracking of the Sunset route pay off?

Actually it doesn't matter whether double tracking the Sunset route is financially feasable.  The double tracking of the Sunset route was (and still is) a condition of the Southern Pacific merger/buyout.  It has taken 20 years to get this far and there wasn't a time deadline on when the work had to be completed.

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Monday, June 05, 2017 9:36 AM

UPENG95 (6-3):

Awe, 9 posts since you started posting in 2016 (as tallied yesterday)!  And, I think, the first of your posts among this thread.  Welcome!

Very recently I had a dispatch towards northern California from southern California, an overnight stay with a return the next day.  Up north way, I went out to eat dinner, but returning to the lodging place I found it had disappeared!  I mean, it just had vanished!  Come to find out, because the terrain was so flat, I had become disoriented and my sense of directions had gone wacko.  I looked for the lodging on the other side of the street, and there it was! – To my relief …

I conveyed that story to you because in your reference to that Sunset Route alignment shifting of the tracks by Coachella you got the directions transposed, but uncovered it, and corrected it in an additional post!  It happens to the best of us …

If you find a bad typo, etc., on one of your posts, while signed in and in the post needing correction, if you use the “Edit” button you can correct a boo-boo and nobody will know (hopefully).

JPS1 (6-4):

That alignment shift addressed by UPENG95 above is more of an optical illusion than anything.  A contact’s not updated material advises that passenger trains are allowed 79 M.P.H. through it, and freights 70 M.P.H.  So, that alignment shift is much, much longer than it appears in the telephoto.  The DSLR lens was set at the maximum of 300mm (which is equivalent to 450mm in 35mm cameras), and highly cropped, corresponding to maybe (“maybe”) 1000mm.

That same digital photo below at the straight 300mm setting shows a whole different perspective, and CP SP615 COACHELLA is readily visible.

In that above view, the 50th Ave overpass and the alignment shift is way, way in the distance.

Best to all,

K.P.

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Posted by Deggesty on Monday, June 05, 2017 10:26 AM

Quoting K.P.: "If you find a bad typo, etc., on one of your posts, while signed in and in the post needing correction, if you use the “Edit” button you can correct a boo-boo and nobody will know (hopefully)"

If you edit your post quickly, most readers will not be aware of the error--but everyone who receives posts by email will see the errorand the corrected post is not resent. I know..Sad

Johnny

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Posted by MikeF90 on Thursday, June 08, 2017 2:11 PM

K. P. Harrier
Come to find out, because the terrain was so flat, I had become disoriented and my sense of directions had gone wacko.

If you want 'flat and disoriented', try visiting Amarillo, TX sometime. Makes this California boys head spin Confused ....

Visited the San Gabriel trench sites yesterday and found that absolutely no new work is underway. UP doesn't have much to do except cut in the new track, but they are holding up the remaining parts of the trench build seriously.

Perhaps they are holding off for a 'two fer' by using the same crews to continue the Alhambra sub diversion work in Pomona; I did not have time to check out any storm drain related work at that location.

Google Map links ---> Sunset Route overview, SoCal metro, Yuma sub, Gila sub, east of Tucson

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Posted by desertdog on Tuesday, June 13, 2017 6:59 PM

Since there's not a whole lot going on along the Sunset here in Arizona, I'm including this drone overview commentary of the SR347 UP bridge site, vaguely related to the main thread as it may be. 

http://www.inmaricopa.com/photographer-shows-drone-view-of-overpass-area-video/

 

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Saturday, June 17, 2017 12:31 AM

Expect Something Big Tomorrow (Saturday) …

… BUT, NOT that Big!

On Saturday, June 17, 2017 Pomona, CA (LA&SL / SP) is supposed to apparently (“apparently”) have track rearranged.  CP C031 OAK and CP AL513 POMONA will be deleted, and CP C028 SPADRA will be added.

K.P. interprets word of all this as the SP track across Temple Ave. and Pomona Ave. will REMAIN in service.

This contributor hopes to get out that way sometime tomorrow (Saturday) and see exactly what is going on.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- It is believed that the overpowering stench of photobucket.com is what killed me! Coming to you from the afterlife … On the other hand, PostImage.io is cool!

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